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Entitled ‘Gideon: God is my Lord’ [i] and preached in Berlin on February 26, 1933 ‘Bonhoeffer gave his first sermon’ since Hitler had been enshrined as chancellor 27 days prior.

Bonhoeffer’s decision to preach from the Old Testament was deliberate. In my opinion, he couldn’t have picked a more controversial figure, at the time, to make a political point.

Nazism, much the same as Communism, is an industry built on victimhood. These systems need a perpetual sense of victimization and sympathy in order to maintain membership and political momentum.

Bonhoeffer understood this. He chose Gideon in a deliberate attempt to preach against the imagery used in Nazi propaganda. In a way Bonhoeffer was reaching for Martin Luther’s epic treatise ‘Bondage of the Will’, to challenge Nazism’s ‘Triumph of the Will.’[ii]

For example: Larry Rasmussen suggests Bonhoeffer contrasted a ‘young [powerless] man chosen by God to save Israel from their enemies and turn them away from the worship of false gods’ with ‘Siegfried, the unconquered Germanic hero figure (of the Nibelung saga), idealised by the Nazis.’ [iii]

Expanding on this Isabel Best writes that Bonhoeffer sets out to ‘describe God’s power in contrast to human might, and finally from Martin Luther’s ‘A Might Fortress,’ to assure his hearers that even now the power, and the victory, are God’s alone.’[iv]

Gideon’s message is God’s grace to the Israelites and through the witness of Gideon this message is also about God’s graciousness towards humanity.

Bonheoffer expresses this clearly:

‘Gideon, we recognise your voice only too well; you sound just the same today as you did then…
Who would be willing to say that he or she has never heard this call and has never answered, as Gideon did: Lord, with what I am supposed to do such great things?
But Gideon is silenced; today as just in those days, he’s told to shut up. You’re asking, “With what?” Haven’t you realised what it means that this is God calling to you? Isn’t the call of God enough for you; if you listen properly, doesn’t it drown out all your “with what” questions?
“I will be with you” – that means you are not asked to do this with any other help. It is I who have called you; I will be with you; I shall be doing it too. Do you hear that, Gideon of yesterday and today?
God has called you, and that is enough. Do you hear that, individual doubting Christian, asking and doubting Christian? God has plans for you, and that does mean you.
Be ready to see to it. Never forget, even when your own powerlessness is grinding you down to the ground, that God has phenomenal, immeasurable, great plans for you. I will be with you.’ [v]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is someone I’d heard of, yet never read with any serious interest until I started college. Since then I have made inroads into understanding his life, theology and influences.

Most Christians who’ve heard of Bonhoeffer might only know him as a an obscure martyr; others will be able to match the name in more detail with the context and images of an era when Europe was consumed by an industrial military complex, imposing new cultural laws, issuing forth blitzkrieg, euthanasia, and mass murder; inciting euphoria through the progeny of Darwinian Socialism, the false doctrines of Nazi dogma.

The latter was swarming the globe, enraging some, and finding recruits in others. All through the promise of a new dawn for humanity – one embossed in the appearance of allegiance with Christianity, when instead it was firmly based on the survival of the fittest, racial supremacy, socialism, scientism, and pagan religion.

Faced with the uncertainty of the times, Bonhoeffer reaches for a tangible example from the Biblical text.

Some of us may find the times confusing. Some are frustrated, and feel powerless in the face of new industries built up around victimhood. Those of us in this category, who have a decent amount of knowledge of history, also lament at how those new victimhood industries are fast reflecting the old.

The truth is that we are witnessing a new wave of organized chaos that has to some degree breached walls where restraint has remained the stalwart of freedom. We are dragged into a fight for freedom and the Western world. A battle that must now be fought, but one we didn’t desire, nor ask for.

In the midst of this, Bonhoeffer and Gideon’s story speaks, reminding us to carry this burden without compromise, to maintain Christ-like integrity in the heat of battle, with the knowledge that though the enemy calls our faith weakness, God calls it strength. He still reigns, and we must trust that He, in His mercy will provide the means to address the challenges of today, and the challenges of tomorrow.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – (Philippians 4:6, ESV)


References:

[i] Best, I. (Ed.) 2012 The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer Fortress Press, p.67

[ii] Veith, G. E. 2010. The Spirituality of the Cross, Concordia Publishing House

[iii] Rasmussen, L in The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer, Isabel Best, (Ed.) 2012  Fortress Press, p.67

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid, pp.67-74 & Stroud, D.G. (Ed.) Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich  Wm.B Eerdmans Press, pp.51-61

An updated version of Gideon Speaks & Sounds Just The Same Today As He Did Then  from September 24, 2014.

First published on Caldron Pool, 5th November, 2019.

Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019.

The Trudeau era and its burgeoning “progressive” totalitarianism got an extension this week as Canadians voted. Consequently, Canadian Liberals were reinstated, winning 157 seats, against the Conservatives who secured 121. Conservatives scored a narrow loss, winning the popular vote at 34.4%, but not securing enough seats to win a majority. [i]

In an opinion piece for Crisis Magazine, Canadian Professor Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University, Donald, DeMarco, presented a grim analysis of Canada’s Trudeaun landscape.

DeMarco expressed concern about apathy, and a general lack of awareness at the slow erosion of hard-won, tried and true, classical liberal freedoms, stating that ‘many Canadian voters seemed indifferent to the fact that their culture is clearly shifting in a totalitarian direction.’

DeMarco’s concern isn’t unwarranted, as he points out,

‘The Trudeau government required students applying for government-funded summer jobs to sign an attestation professing their support of abortion, same-sex marriage, and the LGBTQ coalition. He banned certain Christian summer camps serving underprivileged children from participating in the Canada Summer Jobs Program because of their religious beliefs. (This “is nothing short of anti-religious bigotry,” commented Justice Centre staff lawyer Marty Moore.) He has committed $7.1 billion over the next ten years to promote abortion at home and abroad. He will not allow Liberal MPs to vote their conscience on matters of abortion and LGBTQ matters, and he will not allow pro-life candidates to run as Liberals. He opposes conscience rights for health care workers.’

He’s not wrong. Lifesite news provided evidence on the 15th October, which proved that Trudeau was ‘personally involved’ in the creation of this echo of the Hitler oath requirement.

For DeMarco, these are part of a growing number of signs that totalitarianism is darkening the skies over Canada.

These signs include: ‘1) unanimity of thought, 2) suppression of criticism, 3) denial of conscience, 4) abdication of reason, 5) government coercion, 6) mass conditioning of thought and will, and 7) persecution of dissenters. All these signs are evident in Canadian society and they became crystal clear throughout the campaign.’ [ii]

These signs are across the Canadian political spectrum. According to DeMarco, even ‘the leaders of the New Democratic Party and the Green Party think the same way concerning abortion, same-sex marriage, LGBTQ issues, doctor-assisted suicide, and the decriminalizing of marijuana and prostitution.’

The issue of totalitarianism isn’t just an issue for Canadians. All Westerners are looking down at this hypodermic needle, strategically poised to pierce the beating heart of the West’s foundations, most of which are grounded in the Biblical Christian witness of the Gospel; the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. There is no doubt therefore that the West is faced with a chiasm between a house of freedom under which we live out the liberation of the Gospel, and a house of slavery, under which we are enslaved by the destructive worship of idols and antichrists.

Without people (especially Bible believing Christians) who are willing to rise above the threat of isolation, above the noise of anxiety, and speak truth in love despite fear and timidity, history will repeat itself.Those on the Left, who’ve intravenously injected the Leftist kool-aid of modern liberalism, know this. Christianity is attacked beyond the boundaries of fair criticism because Bible believing Christians are a threat to totalitarian rule. They bring the Gospel witness to the state, which says, with respect for the role of the state, that the state is also subject to the sovereignty of the God who has spoken, and made Himself known in time and space, through Covenant with Israel, and in Jesus Christ.

Trudeau’s requirement is on par with that of Hans Kerrl. Kerrl was NAZI Minister for Church Affairs who acting on the National Socialist  decrees, famously demanded that,

“The Church’s proclamation [preaching/teaching; Gospel & service] must fall into the correct relationship with National Socialism [or else].” [iii]

Another grim example is United States, Democrat Presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke’s threat to remove tax-exemption from churches if they don’t pledge allegiance to LGBT ideology, specifically same-sex marriage.

Like O’Rourke’s cheap shot at Christian charities, most of whom carry their fair share of social responsibility, and then some, Trudeau seems drunk with power.

Governments should not be putting in place laws that will ultimately punish free citizens from refusing to align with Leftist, LGBT ideology, or punish people for apostatising from the LGBT religion.

It may seem like an odd prediction, but I’m almost convinced that the “no” of future generations to the widespread “yes, anything goes” Leftist moralism of our day, will be far harsher than the “no” we present to this new totalitarianism today.

Like the push back against the heinous, but much celebrated at the time, practice of lobotomization. One day the push back against this new totalitarianism will be a major rebuke to those, who, in the name of “progress” have sought to destroy the fabric of freedom and responsibility, found in healthy Western traditions. All by imposing new cultural laws on the body politic who a) had no idea about the dangers, but found themselves becoming its victims, and b) on those who critiqued it, but were silenced because they saw the danger and rigorously opposed it.

For the discerning citizen interested in seeing an end to the increasing war against Western civilisation by hostile Leftist forces, the election result in Canada wasn’t all that grim. To be sure, the election didn’t reflect a Trump or Scott Morrison win, but the election results show that Canada’s Conservative presence and voice is still strong.

All the indications suggest that this will only continue to build. The best those of us, who are seeking to protect the basic freedoms and responsibilities Westerners have inherited at great cost, can hope for, is that Canadians who share those same concerns, not wallow in defeat, but keep up the gains by using this new found momentum to obstruct destructive Trojan horse laws, and win in four years time.

In the meantime, Canada’s Trudeaun landscape will not be as it was. The election result significantly limits totalitarian Trudeau’s power, presenting the discerning citizen with a potential bulwark against the Left’s hatred for Biblical Christianity and Classical Liberalism, in their ever widening embrace of the abyss.


References:

[i] The Guardian, Canada Election 2019: Full Results sourced, 26th October 2019.

[ii] DeMarco, D. 2019 citing Michael O’Brien, 1993. The Family and the New Totalitarianism, Divine Providence Press.

[iii] Bethge, E. Bonhoeffer: A Biography. p.575

First published on Caldron Pool, 27th October 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

The line between inciting hate or violence and informing others about that hate and violence is being blurred.

Facebook’s recent heavy-handed actions against Caldron Pool, and Caldron Pool contributor, Evelyn Rae, suggest that the social media platform is happy to unfairly conflate reporting or fair criticism of an event with endorsement of that event. Rae was given a 13 day ban, restricting posts from her Facebook page appearing in newsfeeds because she shared a screenshot of another person’s tweet for people to comment on. Caldron Pool experienced similar censorship after posting an article reporting on ‘Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, who had executed two Christian aid workers.’ The post was removed. Then restored on appeal, but the restrictions we left in place.

There’s a difference between advocacy and commentary.

If we apply descriptive and prescriptive linguistics to how news worthy events or commentary are presented, we can see that companies like Facebook will inevitably hurt their customer base, because they continue to blur the descriptive and the prescriptive, rather than hold them in tension.

Descriptive is freelance, risky. Prescriptive tells everyone exactly what to do and when. The failure to determine who is saying what, and why, will mean that the prescriptive parameters of speech shut down all descriptive aspects of speech and vice versa. In short, this failure kills freedom of speech and with it constitutional democracy.

Rather than being a paradox of contrasting terms, the descriptive and prescriptive can be viewed as dialectical. There is a relationship between the two. Think of it as a dynamic, dialectic linguistic muscle which moves the limbs of thought and communication forward. This relational dialectic is exemplified by feedback.

Feedback consists of both positive and negative communication. Each serves a unique purpose in evaluating information and data. Without the positive and negative, feedback is pointless. Likewise, without the descriptive process there is no freedom to communicate. Without the prescriptive process, we have no idea how to communicate.

Without the working connectivity of this relational dialectic, conflicting viewpoints have no platform. Feedback has no real role to play other than what it is allowed to be channelled into cheap echo chambers. As a result, freedom of speech either ends up adrift in a sea of discordant noise, or it becomes stuck in the paralysing quagmire of political correctness and identity politics.

We end up with what Chantal Mouffe, in The Democratic Paradox (2005), called a ‘third way’, a ‘one dimensional world’ where the ‘blurring of the frontiers between Left and Right, jeopardise the future of democracy’. This is because of an aversion to freedom of thought and freedom of speech. An aversion played out through a fear of losing, a fear of conflict, fear of people being able to discriminate and choose between two competing ideas. This would include a fear of free speech because of insecurity, and the overbearing, unachievable quest for absolute equality.

Political opponents are no longer friendly adversaries, but are pitted against each other as bitter enemies.

Constitutional Democracy ends up like a ship that’s lost its ability to move – fodder for jagged rocks; the play toy of manipulative propagandists, the progenitors of totalitarianism, and their progeny: lies, confusion and powerlessness.

There is no push and pull; no dialectic muscle to empower Mouffe’s idea of classical liberal democracy, where friendly adversaries negotiate, disagree, are diplomatic, and apply temporary compromise under the banner of unity in diversity.

According to Mouffe, the future of ‘modern democracy lies in the recognition and legitimation of conflict, along with the refusal to suppress it by imposing an authoritarian order. It’s strength lies in its ability to replace antagonism (intense dislike and deep seated hostility) with agonism (positive struggle; constructive conflict).’

For Mouffe, ‘conflict need not involve the identification of an enemy whom one wants to destroy; conflict between adversaries who may disagree can exist, but ultimately they respect one another’s right to exist.’ Bitter political enemies are ‘no longer perceived as an enemy to be destroyed, but as an ‘adversary’, that is somebody whose ideas we combat but whose right to defend those ideas we do not put into question.’ [i]

The dialectic muscle that is push and pull, allows us to hear different perspectives, formulate an opinion for ourselves, and freely communicate that opinion in a way that others can understand it. This dialectic muscle is a vital muscle for the body politic. Communication as descriptive and prescriptive dialectic, are good for constitutional democracy. They are the ingredients necessary for freedom of speech to function properly.

Social media platforms must embrace this relational dialectic by seeing that there’s a difference between describing and prescribing; the difference between commenting on events or ideas, and using those events or ideas to ‘incite violence or risk imminent harm.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg broke with the norm this week. Standing up and speaking out in favour of freedom of speech, the CEO outlined how one of his biggest challenges at Facebook was finding an answer to policing freedom of expression, while ensuring such an action doesn’t hurt freedom of expression.

Describing how difficult this is, he said “some people think our policies don’t prohibit content they think qualifies as hate, while others think what we take down should be a protected form of expression. This area is one of the hardest to get right.”

He expressed concern about ‘polarization’, saying that Facebook ‘has an important role in designing their systems to show a diversity of ideas and not encourage polarizing content.’

Zuckerberg believes that Facebook has two responsibilities in this regard: First, ‘to remove content when it could cause real danger as effectively as we can, and second, to fight to uphold as wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible — and not allow the definition of what is considered dangerous to expand beyond what is absolutely necessary.’

He said that he believed “people should be able to use our services to discuss issues they feel strongly about — from religion and immigration to foreign policy and crime. You should even be able to be critical of groups without dehumanizing them.” He also admitted that Facebook makes “enforcement mistakes” because judging who is saying what and why, “isn’t always straight-forward.”

Pointing to precedents in the United States, the Facebook CEO said, he wants to uphold broad speech rights, stating: “I know many people disagree, but, in general, I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy.”

Zuckerberg rightly stated that “while he worries about an erosion of truth, and that he doesn’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100% true.”

His quest is to leave a legacy that protects freedom of speech. In doing so he said part of the process is keeping Facebook free of fake accounts, malicious entities exploiting the platform with dubious money making scams, and removing deliberate misinformation that could lead to someone taking hazardous advice.

Part of his concern is the increasing restrictions on free speech in other countries. For example, China’s exporting of their vision of the internet, which suppresses dissent, monitors users speech and determines what kind of speech is allowed.

For me, outside his reliance on the term hate speech and polarization, Zuckerberg’s speech hit the right notes. He says a lot of the right things when it comes to putting in place protections for freedom of speech on the platform, but as with a lot of promising talk, actions speak louder than words.

I was both impressed and surprised by his stance on China, and encouraged by how he acknowledged the importance of preserving freedom of speech and its important role in a vibrant constitutional democracy.

Mennonite theologian, John Howard Yoder wrote, ‘democracy, with its judicial and constitutional processes can be essentially defined as communication.’ [ii]

The danger to constitutional democracy is the undermining of this ability to communicate freely. Free speech is let down through a failure to recognise the distinction between advocacy and commentary; the failure to acknowledge the relational push and pull dialectic of prescriptive and descriptive.

Failure to acknowledge the relational dialectic undermines free speech by emphasising prescriptive speech over the descriptive, or vice versa. This happens through the quest to control others by imposing new cultural laws on the body politic, such as anything not viewed as politically correct, being far too easily hated on, as hate speech.

We’re already see this when political groups, a lot like China’s vision for the internet, prescribe politically correct speech as the only legitimate speech. Nowhere is this more powerfully seen than in forced speech laws regarding Islam, transgenderism, or the LGBT religion in general.

The relational dialectic of push and pull has the power to preserve constitutional democracy, through agreement and disagreement. Just as tension in a muscle is necessary to ensure motion, so is the necessity to have a platform or open forum, where ideas can be aired, challenged and either adopted or reasonably rejected. All of which is built on mutual respect, not necessarily on an obligation to mutual agreement.

Zuckerberg’s concern about polarization places him in agreement with Mouffe’s argument. The preservation of constitutional democracy lies with an effort to utilise constitutional democracy’s capacity to replace antagonism (intense dislike and deep seated hostility) with agonism (positive struggle; constructive conflict).

Freedom of speech is the great relational dialectic muscle of constitutional democracy. Its push and pull gives constitutional democracy momentum. Only through its preservation, and the exercise of it, will we be able to move forward, while also preserving healthy tradition, freedom, rights and responsibilities.

 


References:

[i] Mouffe, C. 2005. The Democratic Paradox, Verso

[ii] Yoder, J.H. 1964, The Christian Witness to the State, Herald Press.

Full transcript of Mark Zuckerberg’s Speech

First published on Caldron Pool, 23rd October 2019 & also featured on The Spectator Australia, 24th October 2019.

Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Unless you’ve been completely living off grid for the past three years, you’ll know that the United Kingdom’s, 2016, Brexit referendum is yet to be officially ratified.

The 2016 referendum saw the people of the United Kingdom vote in favour of leaving the European Union by 1,269,501 people. The final result ended with 51.9% (17.5 million) of those in the U.K voting to leave the E.U, while 48.1% (16.1 million) voted to remain [i].

The results uncovered a division between North and South. The majority in England and Wales chose to leave, while Northern Ireland and Scotland, still heralding a decent leave vote, had a majority choose to remain.

In subsequent years this divide has devolved into two camps from both sides. The first, called, Remainers. The second, Leavers.

Remainers want either, no exit, a new referendum or a Brexit deal that waters down the U.K.’s exit from the E.U. On the flipside Leavers, want the referendum to be honoured, which means a clean, but respectful exit.

Given the referendum’s North vs. South outcome, and the Leave or Remain dichotomy, it’s easy enough to see why it’s taken three years for deliberations to even come close to ratifying the Brexit mandate handed to the U.K. Government.

There was a glimmer of Thatchian hope, when Theresa May took over from David Cameron, who had resigned as a direct result of the referendum outcome. However, political hurdles, comparisons to Neville Chamberlain’s “appeasement policy” and manoeuvring from Remainers, along with May’s own leadership faux pars ended up costing her the Prime Ministership.

Theresa May’s biggest mistake? ‘Not considering a no-deal Brexit a viable option.’ [ii] This is despite May all but penning the term “no-deal Brexit”, when ‘she repeatedly warned that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” [iii]

With May’s exit, hope of a resolution towards ratification now rests in the hands of Churchill fan, Boris Johnson; a man, suitable to the task at hand, but a man not without his own shortcomings. It’s now up to Johnson, and his team, to effectively lead the U.K. out of the E.U. by upholding the referendum result, and in doing so, preserving the integrity of constitutionally democratic mechanisms, such as referendums.

Of course, to do this, Johnson will still have to navigate the same waters as Theresa May. His biggest obstacles are obstructionists in his own party, the main stream media, and the Marxists under Labour’s Socialist leader, Jeremy Crobyn.

Navigating those waters isn’t going to be easy, but as Johnson has shown in the face of overwhelming defeat, if it can be done, he plans to do it.

His first task was making the most of the Queen’s speech. What the Queen’s speech gives Johnson is an opportunity to communicate his plan to the U.K. people without it being filtered through the lens of the MSM, and all with the weight of the Queen’s voice behind it.

Traditionally, the Queen opens the new parliament year with a speech written by government ministers. The formal 10 minute speech is delivered on the throne in the House of Lords. From there the speech is debated for up to five days where it is then voted upon.

Johnson hasn’t wasted the opportunity. With an emphasis on the word “forward” (mentioned 11 times) the Queen outlined the Johnson government’s plan to move the U.K. beyond the division and stalemate of the past three years.

The speech was clear, easy to understand and had a 7 point, U.K. first tone:

1. Leaving the European Union on 31 October, with an emphasis on seizing new opportunities delivered by a successful Brexit.

2. Measures to further support Healthcare.

3. Commitment to tackling violent crime, strengthening the criminal justice system and ensuring victims receive the support they need and the justice they deserve.

4. Measures we will progress to ensure fairness and protection for individuals and families.

5. Levelling up every corner of the United Kingdom through better education, infrastructure and science, renewing the ties that bind us together.

6. Deepens our commitment to the natural environment and animal welfare.

7. To Endeavour to drive forward work to deliver for every corner of the U.K. [iv]

These include two brilliant stand-out features, unpacked within the actual speech, which will appeal to both Remainers and Leavers.

The first, putting forward “an immigration bill, ending free movement, laying the foundation for a fair, modern and global immigration system.”

The second, “ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in, and contributed so much to, the United Kingdom, have the right to remain.” [v]

CNN are unsurprisingly pessimistic about Johnson’s ability to bring Brexit home, stating, ‘it’s hard to ignore the reality that this legislative agenda will probably never see the light of day in this Parliament. Rather, it seems a precursor to an inevitable general election.’

Their dismissive pessimism isn’t completely misplaced. As the BBC noted, although it is highly unusual for the Queen’s speech to be rejected, the Queen’s speech is not a complete guarantee that the government’s plan will be passed.

There’s no argument against this from me. Johnson is walking on thin ice. If he fails to win the Queen’s speech vote, he can call for an early election. If that fails, it is expected that he will be called on to resign.

The deadline for Brexit is the 31st October. To not ratify Brexit, and carry the debate beyond this date, is to hurt constitutional democracy in the U.K. Contempt for the 2016 referendum result, diminishes the importance of referendums, and in the process muzzles the voice of the people. If the healthy mechanisms of any constitutional democracy are to be protected from further erosion by enemies of freedom, rights and responsibilities, both within and without, Brexit must be ratified.

The Queen’s speech emphasises Johnson’s way forward. With it he may have hit the right note needed to inspire the 16.1 million who didn’t vote in favour of Brexit, and honour the voice of the 17.5 million who did.


References:

[i] The BBC, 2016. EU Referendum results. Sourced 15th October, 2019.

[ii] Jim Pickard, Theresa May’s Five Big Mistakes: how they stacked up, Financial Times 25th May, 2019. Sourced 15th October, 2019

[iii] The Guardian, YouTube: Brexit: ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ says Theresa May Sourced 15th October, 2019

[iv] Gov.UK, Policy Paper: Queen’s Speech: What it means for you, 14th October, 2019. Sourced, 15th October, 2019.

[v] Michael Smith News, Queens Speech Transcript, 15th October

 

First published on Caldron Pool, 16th October 2019

Light. Shine. Bright.

#Jesusisvictor ✊🏻

I largely agree with Ben Shapiro’s consistent criticism of Donald Trump’s ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants’ approach to foreign policy. Trump appears to ride roughshod, giving the impression of impulsiveness, or worse that he hasn’t considered the law of unintended consequences. However, a lot of recent criticism coming from both sides of politics, concerning the Trump administration’s decision to “withdraw” U.S Troops from Syria, ignore the plight of refugees, and push aside the fact that Turkey is still an official ally of the United States. As signatories of NATO they are strategic partners.

The recent advance of the Turks into northern Syria wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. The Turkish plan, as outlined by Carlotta Gall from the New York Times in September, is twofold. First, to create a buffer zone between Turkey and the Kurds, second, to repatriate over one million Syrian Refugees, currently in Turkey. The goal being to relocate some of the 3.6 million refugees Turkey has given refuge to, by moving them back into ‘Syrian territory controlled by the United States and its Kurdish allies.’

While it would be fair to ask whether Turkish regime leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was using refugees as an excuse to attack and suppress the Kurds, the question ignores the current needs of Syrian refugees, and it pushes aside the question about who is going to take responsibility for over 10,000 ISIS prisoners.

In addition, Gall reported that not everyone involved in Syria is on board with the plan. This didn’t stop Erdogan, who appeared to give an ultimatum in response. Either give Turkey access to the area, or ‘he would “open the gates” for large numbers of refugees to head into Europe as they did in 2015.’

Though Trump’s approach to foreign policy appears impulsive, the U.S. “withdrawal from Northern Syria” isn’t an absolute fiat accompli. Trump’s decision is better described as a strategic repositioning, rather than a withdrawal of U.S Forces. As James Laporta of Newsweek clarified, ‘current rules of engagement for U.S. forces continue to be centered around self-defense and that no order has been issued by the Pentagon for a complete withdraw from Syria.’

Claims about a withdrawal come from the decision to reposition 50-100 special operations forces. This was done, according to Military Times, ahead of the Turkish operation in order to ‘protect U.S. troops and keep them out of the crossfire.’

It’s also worth acknowledging that this strategic repositioning didn’t come without a warning to Turkey’s leaders.  Trump has made it clear that he does not support the initiative and urged Turkish authorities to avoid triggering another humanitarian crisis in the region. To back this up the United States ceased sharing of tactical reconnaissance information with Turkey, to prevent them using their strategic partnership with the United States to pad advantage in any military operation, to make way for the relocation and resettlement of Syrian refugees back into Syria.

Trump’s warning also takes into consideration an obligation for Turkey not to renege on an agreement to take responsibility for the 11,000 ISIS fighters being held across the region. The onus of responsibility for preventing any reemergence of ISIS in the area is now solely on Turkey.

The strategic partnership between Europe, Turkey and the United States, means that NATO has political clout from which they can use to hold Turkey accountable, if the regime decides to decimate the Kurdish people or further attempt to wipe the Assyrian Christians. It would seem, by Trump’s remarks on his personal Twitter account, (ignoring the ridiculous ‘great and unmatched wisdom’ part), that he is banking on that connection to keep the Kurds and Assyrian Christians in the area safe.

What may seem to be a foolish move by the United States may, in time, prove to be a smart one. This isn’t about American isolationism. The long standing mutual obligation America has to its Turkish allies through NATO, alongside the question about what to do with ISIS prisoners, and Syrian refugees, all provide legitimate reasons for the United States to redefine its relationship with the Middle East, and with Turkey in particular.

Add to this reasoning the peripheral activity of far-left foreign fighters training with the Kurds, such as the self-described Antifa platoon, mixed in with the domestic headache, and potential domestic threat this poses to the internal stability of the United States, the rationale for Trump’s decision becomes clearer. Given the actions of Antifa, a far-left organization, over the past three years, surely insurgent combat training and combat experience is a recipe for disaster.

To sum up, America and Turkey are allies. Turkey is part of NATO. The United States is bound by that partnership, and has a responsibility to hold to it.

This also means that America is not left alone in holding Turkey accountable – it would be a United Nations effort, lead by all of NATO’s partners. As witnessed by NATO chief, Jens Stoltenber’s recent call for restraint.

Regardless of how we may feel as spectators, we aren’t privy to the kinds of sensitive information American Presidents have access to. The role back of a U.S military presence in Syria is a surgical response to a complex situation.  On one hand there is the possibility of the withdrawal having the same vacuous affect that Barrack Obama’s abysmal decision to withdraw completely from Iraq did, ripping apart a healing wound, only to see that wound fester into what would become the infectious abomination that is Islamic State (ISIS). If this eventuates, the decision could prove to be an avoidable disaster, not only for the Trump administration, but for NATO.

On the other hand, Trump’s decision could deescalate tensions, shining a spotlight on Turkey, making it hard for them avoid finding a diplomatic way to reach a settlement or agreement with their own partners in the region, that will include protections for the Kurds and Assyrian Christians. If this eventuates, the decision was humanitarian.

Either way, it’s likely to be the case that Trump is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Donald Trump’s head, since Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 election, has been marked for the guillotine by the far-left. Any preventable loss of American life would have been on his hands, as would the escalation of U.S involvement through any military action to stop Turkey.

The same goes for Trump taking the more peaceable road. It’s a decision that could open the door for the potential slaughter of Kurds and further elimination of Assyrian Christians by the Turkish regime.

Despite this, the repositioning of U.S troops was a hard, but an important call.

There’s a difference between being dominate and domineering. To be dominant is to have influence and power. To be domineering is to force that influence and power over others in an arrogant way. America is a dominate force, Trumps knows this. His decision also suggests that he’s keen to see America not follow mistakes of the past by abusing that power and influence. This arrogance of power, as noted by Democrat senator, William J. Fullbright in 1966, has been the domineering historical flaw in American foreign policy.

The rejection of this arrogance of power sends a message to the world. One which says that the Trump administration are not what their enemies claim, and one that asserts Donald Trump’s ability to make unpopular decisions, if he has good reasons for doing so.

The U.S is caught between themselves and two Allies. On one side they have to hold to their mutual obligations under the NATO treaty. On the other side, they have an obligation to honour the effort of the Kurds in helping defeat ISIS. The United States also has an obligation to its own people. A large part of this is seeing to it that they don’t commit the mistakes of the past. This is a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. The best move in this scenario is a reluctant, cautious repositioning, because idleness is the devil’s playground.


First published on Caldron Pool, 11th October, 2019.

Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

In the book which effectively severed his connection from the French Communists, agnostic French existentialist philosopher, Albert Camus wrote,

‘If everyone believes in nothing, if nothing makes sense, if we can assert no value whatsoever, everything is permissible and nothing is important.’ (The Rebel, 1951)

Camus, a golden-child of the French Communists, famously ‘went against the grain among members of the French left-wing intelligentsia.’ [i] As result ‘Camus was virtually excommunicated from the French intellectual life by Jean Sartre and his comrades’ [ii]

Camus fired a flare out from within the inner sanctum of Leftist elitism. He had fought against fascism in WW2, and saw the terror unleashed in the name of anti-fascism. In this he witnessed an equally oppressive movement, which road on the coattails of false promises, and carefully targeted outrage. His decision to break free exposed the false promises of a utopia built on totalitarianism, and the unquestionable ‘epistemological privilege of the oppressed’ [iii], all enforced by appeasement, and maintained by the buzzwords emancipation and justice.

In the light of Camus’ experience and wisdom, and the past three years, it is no exaggeration to say that the upcoming 2020 election in the United States will be even more important than 2016.

The re-election of the Trump administration will be a decisive and final cut, one that separates a free people from the burdensome shackles of globalism, the smiles, lies and hi-fives of its career politicians, and its bureaucratic caste.

This is why they are in a tail spin, they know that a Trump 2020 win, will be a rebuke of their decades long hold on power. They know that such a win, will give power back to the masses who inherited the responsibility of nurturing the hard-won freedoms handed down them.

They know that a Trump 2020 win will be a loud, unified “no” to fear, manipulation, false promises and the dysfunctional fabric of socialism; a revolt against the burgeoning bureaucratic aristocracy, and it’s globalist imperial feudalism.

They know such a win will be a “yes” to freedom, not a denial of it.

The caveat to this of course is that Trump is no different to any of us when it comes to sin and the need for salvation. Donald Trump is not Jesus Christ or the herald of a golden age. He is the bulwark and resounding “no” of a people who want a return to a government for the people, of the people, by the people. In this Trump at least acknowledges the importance of his office and its role as a servant leader of one nation, under God.

As with the rest of us, Trump still has potential. He is still very much a diamond in the rough. For sure, he has irritating idiosyncrasies. We all do. He may talk about himself far too much, but he at least has the balls to boldly act against the madness of political correctness, the Leftist equivalent of shari’a law; showing that his administration uniquely understands the danger of the political quagmire, the crushing weight of bloated bureaucracy through its forced speech, imprisonment for non-compliance to its irrational ideological standard, and its contempt for Biblical Christianity.

The fact that Trump hasn’t quit under the normal pressure of leadership, or abandoned his post, at every crack of the whip sent his way, by his political enemies, shows character. By not giving up, or irresponsibly giving in, he has expressed value and appreciation for the office he holds and the free, discerning citizens he represents.

Think what you will. Disagree if you must. Trump has proven that he has the chops to fight an unwanted “culture war” thrust upon the West. Nothing changes this fact. He and his team have stood firm, in the face of a contempt and hatred that can only be described as demonic. This is manifest in the manufactured lies, and the hate-Trump-love-trumps-hate dissonance and fear, imposed on the world since 2016.

Our would-be Leftist overlords in the West know that a Trump 2020 win, will be a vote for the restoration of ideas that his office, and his nation were founded upon. In this vote for the restoration of freedom, and the rights and responsibilities attached to it, such a win is not only a win for those in the United States, it’s a win for every man and woman, who cherishes the very concept of liberty, under God, and who, with grateful solemnity, remembers the ultimate price many have paid for it.

Like Camus, Trump was once a darling of the Left. Like Camus, Trump has been rejected by it under the charge of treason against the long ruling Leftist ideological paradigm.

Like Camus’ publication of The Rebel, the 2016 election was an historic time of choosing.

The 2020 election in the United States will be no different.

Ronald Reagan’s words in 1964 hold true:

 “The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honoured dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain… The greater risk lies in appeasement; surrender. We’ll [either] preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.’ [iv]

A Trump 2020 victory will be a resounding “yes” to freedom from those dragged into fighting the unwanted “culture war” thrust upon the West.


References:

[i] Todd, O. 2013, Afterward in Camus, A. The Rebel (Penguin Modern Classics) Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Ed

[ii] Elshtain, J.B. 1995 Democracy On Trial Basic Books

[iii] Newbigin, L. 1989. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, SPCK Classics (p.150)

[iv] Reagan, R. 1964 ‘A time for Choosing’, PDF transcript

First published on Caldron Pool, 8th October 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019